Rob Reviews "Somebody I Used To Know"
Dave Franco and his wife, Alison Brie, have teamed up to write Somebody I Used to Know with Franco in the directing chair with the intention of bringing a bit of a twist on the rom-come in an outside-of-the-holidays-Hallmark-Christmas type of film. Unfortunately, it never really gets to where it should be on multiple levels.
Ally (Brie) is a showrunner for a dessert-baking reality show that gets its plug pulled after two seasons. She makes the decision to leave Los Angeles for a bit to return to her hometown in Leavenworth, Washington to figure out her next move. She quickly runs into her ex-boyfriend from a decade prior in Sean (Jay Ellis). As they reminisce together, Ally starts to wonder if her choices could have been made in error as her weekend away from everything gets turned upside down from a number of angles.
I am never against a group of people getting together and finding a way to make it into a revenue-generating project, but Somebody I Used to Know should have taken more time in the writing process to make this truly work. From time to time, there are films where the main character is both the protagonist AND the antagonist, but I have as of yet to find one that actually works for me. Whether or not it was intended for me to not have any form of sympathy or empathy for Ally’s journey is unclear, but it just didn’t work. There is even a part where the plotline of this film was basically taken from (not going to spoil this as the IMDb description does not) is blatantly said in perhaps an attempt to clue the audience in on the bit, which really was unnecessary and made me shake my head even more.
There is also an issue for me here with the chemistry that just doesn’t seem to click between Brie and Ellis. Both are great actors in their own right, but I never saw a scene with the both of them and felt anything one way or another. I did not want to cheer for them or even wish they would just figure out the nature of their relationship; it just WAS. I honestly cannot blame the screenwriting here (which has issues of its own with pacing and how certain characters seem to not be fleshed out or simply be shoehorned into the story), but the casting here could have taken a bit more time or rehearsal to establish true feelings and intentions.
If there are some bright points here, it is in the inclusion of Brie’s “Community” castmate Danny Pudi and “Blockbuster” alum Olga Merediz. Pudi as Sean’s best friend (I think… again fleshing out characters is an issue here), Benny, and Merediz as Sean’s mother, Joanne, did bring some entertainment value but not enough to outweigh the rest of the problems this film has. Haley Joel Osment is here as well and seems to be living his best life right now, so kudos for him in taking what could be an inconsequential role and just having fun with it and bringing the character of Jeremy to a different level. Franco does direct this VERY well on a number of levels from sweeping countryside in Washington to a very fun sequence on a bus and even in the local haunts of Leavensworth that did make me take notice as well. Credit should also be given to Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans for choosing songs for the soundtrack here that does its best to compliment what the story is telling but would have had to work a LOT harder to do so. (Side note: this is actually a soundtrack I would own, so don’t think I am downing that part of it.)
Somebody I Used to Know seems to be more of a flim watched by a group of friends that can relate to its themes of love renewed and love lost more than it is to be watched by oneself. I don’t know if doing so will make it a more enjoyable experience, but this early in the year I cannot say how it will wind up. I feel like I am going to see enough films to keep this out of my Bottom Ten, but it’s still not a lock yet.